It’s my last day in Chicago, at least for this week (I’ll be back next week). Last night when I returned to my room I looked at the front page of the Wall Street Journal – Headline, Meet the Meeting Killers. Keep in mind, I’ve just spent 8 hours meeting with a group of business leaders, discussing business and marketing strategy; everything from “who we are” to “what we need to become” as the tech market continues to evolve. Unlike this article, which is the norm, our meeting was highly productive. In fact, we didn’t have any of the problems highlighted in the picture to the left…why? Here are some things we did to avoid problems:
- The premeeting, meeting; First, I did take the time to talk with all of the participants before coming up here. I wanted to understand each person’s needs and goals for this meeting before having the meeting – this makes for an effective, highly focused meeting.
- Our agenda is highly structured. Not that we don’t have brainstorming and flexibility in our meeting – just the opposite. But we have planned times to create and think outside the box in an organized way; we have a way to organize and consider ideas – and ways to stretch the imagination of each participant.
- We have a facilitation process that works. Rather than just talking, I use a process called The 6 Thinking Hats, developed by Dr. Debono. Of all of the facilitation programs I have seen, this one really works. I learned this method from a certified 6 Hats Trainer; I’ve also studied more than one book on the subject. If you want to run effective meetings, you need something to move people from spectator to involvement, but with order. But you also need a way to draw out ideas from those who might not see themselves as creative. You need positive perspective from the naysayer, and you need the optimist to consider the cautions. You need a way of getting everyone in the group to consider things from many angles. Debono refers to this as, “Lateral Thinking”.
By planning, structuring, and using a great facilitation tool, I believe the group would agree, we’ve accomplished in one day, what many groups take weeks to sort through. And by the end of today, we’ll have a plan to execute on.
© 2012, David Stelzl